New Delhi: After witnessing a hike for a few days in September, retail onion prices again skyrocketed this week to as high as Rs 100 per kilogram in several locations across major cities in the country. This was after wholesale prices of the bulb hit a four-year high due to a fall in arrivals (supply) in mandis.
Prices in Nashik’s Lasalgaon market — Asia’s largest wholesale onion market — touched Rs 5,500 per quintal on Monday, which is the highest since August 2015. Prices, however, were recorded at Rs 4,300 per quintal on Wednesday. This came after arrivals plummeted to just 200 quintals on Saturday — the lowest since December 2016 (185 quintal) — before rising to 4,500 quintal on Wednesday.
It is the first time since October 2015 that wholesale onion prices have crossed the Rs 4,000/quintal-mark at Lasalgaon.
Wholesale prices in Delhi were recorded at a relatively lower rate of Rs 3,607 per quintal on November 1, which is the latest figure available for the capital. Prices in Delhi have also gone beyond Rs 3,000/quintal for the first time in two years.
Union minister for food and consumer affairs Ram Vilas Paswan said that the prices of onion have increased due to a fall in domestic production of the crop and that the government was reviewing the situation.
“Prices have gone up as production (kharif onion) has declined by 30-40 per cent in the country...We are concerned about the situation and the government is trying its best,” Paswan said, adding that the prices should hopefully come down by end of November or beginning December.
Nearly two-thirds of India’s onion production is in the rabi onion which is sown during December and January and harvested during April and May. Whereas the kharif onion is sown in May-June and harvested in during October and November which together with late kharif onion that is sown in August-September and harvested between January and February accounts for the remaining annual onion production in the country.
Data show that onion prices generally rise between September and November. This is mainly on account of low rabi onion stocks till the arrival of kharif onion in the market.
Paswan said that the government had already disposed off nearly all of its 57,000 tonnes of buffer stock and is looking to import onion through private trade. Paswan said that the government has also banned the export of processed and raw onion and has imposed stock holding limits on traders in order to stabilise market prices of the bulb.
In September this year, after onion prices soared government had imposed a minimum export price (MEP) of $850 per tonne on onion exports to stabilise prices in the domestic market.
(with PTI inputs)